Boone County High School Forensics




In poetry, you will perform a piece that is either one long poem or a series of poems that are related by topic, author, etc. The type of poems doesn’t matter, but they must be from a published poet. All poetry performances must have an introduction with the background to the performance and the title(s)/author(s) of the poem(s).


While your piece should be memorized, you will also use and refer to the manuscript in the form of a “black book,” which is a small black binder. You can use this for movement or blocking. For an example of what using a black book in poetry looks like, check out this example from the NSDA final round of poetry.


In poetry, you are allowed to move around (e.g. walking, bending, etc.) to express the piece; however, you are not required to move.


Tips and Tricks:

  • If you choose to perform one longer poem, make sure the poem is long and engaging enough to your audience.


  • If you choose to perform a selection of poems, make sure there is a clear link between the poems. The poems can all be about a specific topic (e.g. friendship), written by the same author, or express the same mood/emotion.


  • If you choose multiple poems, you do not have to present the entirety of each poem in isolation (e.g. start with poem A, move to poem B, etc.). You can splice up sections from each poem throughout the performance, but make sure it is obvious when you are switching poems.


  • The black book can be an effective prop if used properly. Consider how simple actions, like turning a page, can show emotion: a quick page turn could express anger, multiple quick page turns can show anxiety, etc.


  • Make sure that different characters have different voices, facial expressions, eye contacts, etc. Likewise, change your tone or presentation when you change poems.


  • Do not present your poem in a “sing-song” way. This is a trap that students often fall into if the poem rhymes. A good rule of thumb is to think of how you would read a poem to a child: the lilting tones and emphasis on rhyme are great for children, but not for forensics poetry.


For more detailed practicing tips, check out the KHSSL handbook (Poetry starts on page 33).